Copyright
Wallace Melvin Morgan.

History of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; online

. (page 159 of 177)
Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; → online text (page 159 of 177)
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Many of the most important real-estate and promotion deals in East Bakers-
field have been made under their supervision, and by integrity, honesty and
intelligence they have won the confidence of all. AK.ng insurance lines they
represent such well-known companies as the German-American Insurance
Company of New York, the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company of San Fran-
cisco and the Royal Insurance Company of Liverpool. A safety deposit de-
partment has been added to their office equipment and there are fire and
burglar proof boxes for rent to customers.

Born at Vancouver, Wash., October 9, 1876, P. J. O'Meara was fifth in
order of birth among ten children, eight of whom are still living. The parents,
Patrick and Johanna (Long) O'Meara, died respectively in 1903 and 1904,
the former at the age of seventy-eight years. He had come to California
in early life from the mines of Australia and New Zealand and after his
arrival in 1850 had engaged in the hotel business in San Francisco, but later
became a pioneer of Washington and engaged in ranching near Vancouver.
Returning to California in 1885, he took up land near Keene, Kern county, and
engaged in stock-raising and farming. From time to time he added to his
possessions until he had acquired the title to about two thousand acres of land
near Keen-e. To his labors was due the organization of a school district and
the building of a schoolhouse. For years he gave faithful service as school
trustee. For some years he was employed as bridge inspector of the district
along the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Coming to Kern county when less than nine years of age, P. J. O'Meara
passed the uneventful years of boyhood on the home ranch near Keene and
attended the school in that district. After leaving school he aided his father
on the home ranch. At the age of nineteen he became a fireman of the South-
ern Pacific Railroad and continued in that capacity for four A^ears, after which
he returned to the stock industry and engaged in raising cattle on a ranch
near Breckenridge. For three years he continued raising cattle on the Kern
river and then disposed of his stock, investing the proceeds in a stock of
general merchandise at Caliente, Kern county. While carrying on the store
he also served as justice of the peace. During 1908 an explosion of dynamite
in the Southern Pacific warehouse started a fire that almost wiped out the
village and he was one of the heaviest losers by the catastrophe. The following
year he formed a partnership with A. J. Woody in the real-estate business at
Kern, where also they with J. H. Stevenson own the Hotel Metropole. In



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 144r

addition to other holdings Mr. O'Meara is interested in oil development in the
west side fields, serves as a director in various companies and is part owner of
a quartz mill in the Amelia district. Fraternally he holds membcrslii|) with
the Eagles and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.

FREDERICK ELI HARE.— Rest known in Delano as manager of the
Union Lumber Company's yard stationed there, Frederick Eli Hare is classed
among the reliable, honest and trustworthy citizens of the county. He was the
elder of two children born to his parents, Elias C. and Anna (Woods) Mare,
the former of whom was born in Wooster, Ohio, and came to California when
eighteen years old. Tra\eling by way of Panama he reached the California
ccast in the '50s and followed placer mining in the Sierra Nevadas for many
years. Subsequently he successfully conducted a mercantile business in San
Francisco, relinquishing this interest to become secretary of the Masonic
Board of Relief in that city, and for many years he filled that responsible
position with credit and ability. Mr. Hare is now making his home with his
son at the age of seventy-seven years. His wife, whom he married in Eldorado
county, was a native cf Illinois, and crossed the plains with her parents by
means of ox-teams. The father was prominent in Masonic circles, has been
grand lecturer of Grand Lodge of California, serving for four years, and
attained the Knight Templar degree.

Frederick E. Hare was born September 11, 1854, at Rose Springs, Eldorado
county, on Tennessee Creek. This was located about eight miles from Ci loma,
where gold was discovered by Marshall in 1848. Reared in the city of San
Francisco, he there obtained a good public school education and graduated
from Heald's Business College in 1882. Then he gained experience by filling
the pcsition of bookkeeper for several firms, after which for eight years he
served as route agent for the San Francisco Chronicle. The succeeding four
years he passed in the employ of T. J. Conroy's insurance agency. Coming
to Bakersfield in 1903 he assumed the management of the Coflfee Club but the
duties proved too arduous fcr his constitution and he went to Nevada county
to regain his health. After eighteen months spent on a ranch he returned
to Bakersfield and entered the employ of the Union Lumber Company in
the capacity of bookkeeper. In 1908, upon the establishment of the lumber
yard at Delano, he was made manager of same and to.-k full charge of the
building up of the branch, in which he has met with signal success. Mr.
Hare's marriage occurred in Nevada county, Cal., uniting him with Amy
Isbister, a native of that county and daughter of John Isbister, who was a
pioneer miner and farmer of this state. Three children have blessed this
union, John, James and I->ederick. Fraternally he is a member of San Fran-
cisco Lodge, No. 212, F. & A. M., and politically a Republican.

ROBERT GUNDERSON.— To leave a Norwegian home at the age of
fifteen years and to devote the next decade exclusively to mining in lonel}'
regions far removed from educatic nal centers, would seem to oflfer few advan-
tages to a young man for the acquisition of culture and a comprehensive
fund cf knowledge in history, literature and the arts, yet we find Mr. Gunder-
son one of the best-posted men in his part of Kern county. Both he and his
brother, Daniel, who is in partnership with him in the book and stationery
business at Randsburg, are regarded as men of intelligence and much general
information ; furthermore, they have a high standing in the community for
their honesty, integrity and moral worth. Their stock of books has been
selected with more than ordinary care and they also maintain a branch of the
county library in their book-shop, further have a newspaper agency and
deal in cigars' and t( bacco. Since they bought the McCarthy store in .April,
1905, they have conducted their book and stationery business at Randsburg,
besides having other interests in this portion of the county.

Near Mandal, Norway, Robert Gunderson was born February 5, 1871,



1446 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

the son of a well-to-do farmer who gave him the advantage of a thorough
education in the common branches of study. Upon coming to the United
States in 1886 he found employment in Michigan iron mines at Ironwood,
but a year later removed to Wisconsin and secured employment on the coal
docks at West Superior. During 1888 he migrated to Montana, where he was
employed in mines and the smelter at Anaconda. In a short time he went to
Utah and found work in mines at Park City. The year 1890 found him at
Pioche, Nev., where mining pursuits occupied his time for two years. The
trip from that locality to Vanderbilt, San Bernardino county, Cal., in 1892 was
made by wagon. Happening to be in Los Angeles in 1893 when Mr. Reed
brought a $1,000 nugget obtained in Reed Gulch in the Goler district, he
decided to prospect in the new location. Immediately he came to Kern county
and took up work in the vicinity of Goler, where he located the Last Chance,
Norway and Rocket mines, and where he met with considerable success in
the placer mines. Upon the starting of Randsburg he decided to locate at
this point and October of 1896 found him a newcomer in the district, where
ever since he has been interested in quartz mining. He discovered and kcated
what is known as the Minnesota grouD of four claims situated two and one-
half miles southwest of Randsburg, where he is engaged in mining and ship-
ping ore, while in addition since 1905 he has been a partner in the book
business. Fraternally he holds membership with the Eagles. His brother
and partner, Daniel, completed his education in the high school at Ottawa,
Minn., and engaged in teaching in that state until 1903, when he ji ined Robert
in Kern county. For a time he taught in the Randsburg school, but later he
has engaged in the book business, besides acting as a member of the Kern
county board of education for two terms. In the community the brothers
have the highest reputation for progressive tendencies, personal energy and
keen mentality and they have been important factors in the permanent upbuild-
ing of Randsburg.

FRED C. CLARK.— New York state has given to California many citi-
zens who have contributed to its growth and development and participated in
the benefits accruing therefrom. Born in De Peyster, St. Lawrence county,
N. Y., February 23, 1853, Fred C. Clark was the son of John B. and Amelia G.
(Robertson) Clark, natives of New Hampshire and ^Vales,, respectively, who
farmed in the state of New York until their deaths.

At the public school near his boyhood home young Clark was a student
until he was seventeen years old, living meanwhile with his parents and
assisting with the work on the home farm. About that time his father sold
his property and the family moved to a town nearby, where the young man
learned the trade of carriage-making. Finding that a place in a carriage shop
was not always open to him he became a carpenter and builder, and as such
was constantly employed in various cities in New York, Illinois, Missouri
and Kansas until he came to the Pacific coast, arriving at Los Angeles January
3, 1890. Here he was employed as a carpenter until February, 1891, when he
came to Bakersfield and prospered as a rancher for twenty-cue years. He
purchased a ranch of twenty acres on Kern Island, later adding ten acres more,
the land being unimproved when he took possession. But he began with
alfalfa and grain and soon improved it and had it all under successful cultiva-
tion. In 1904 he bought forty acr.es about a mile from his first purchase, and
when he had put it under cultivation to some extent he bought an adjoining
sixty acres, making a hundred and thirty acres in alfalfa and grain. In the
same year he also carried on dairying for a short time. In 1911 he sold his
first thirty acres and now owns one hundred acres, most of it under alfalfa
and grain, the remainder devoted to pasturage, and he keeps a limited number
of cattle and hogs. In 1911 he removed to Bakersfield, purchased a home on
Dracena street, and is to a degree retired from active life. Mrs. Clark was



HISTORY ()!• KI'.KX lOUNTY 1447

formerly Miss Annie M. Handley, who was born near Attica, Ind., February 16,
1863, and she has two children, Fred H. and lilenn Li. Mrs. Clark was the
daughter of William and Maria (Pyle) Handley, natives uf Scotland and Ohio
respectively, who were farmers in Indiana. I'^rom there they moved to Kan-
sas and thence in 1894 came to Bakersfield, where the mother died in 1903.
The father resides with Mrs. Clark. She is a member of the Methodist Episco-
pal Church South. In politics Mr. Clark is a Republican.

ADOLPHUS DOWD. — Varied experiences in different parts of the coun-
try have come to Mr. Dowd since he earned his first money as a messenger
boy in Sherman, Tex., and since he devoted his evenings after school to
acquiring an expert knowledge of telegraphy, an art in which he gained re-
markable proficiency at an early age. For years he had a reputa;ion as one
of the swiftest and most accurate operators in the service and although no
longer following the occupation his hand has not forgotten its skill at tiie
key. In addition to expertness in telegraphy he had completed a commercial
course and thus became competent in stenography and bookkeeping, so that
while still young he was well qualified to earn a livelihood. The course of
his business life took him to every part of the country and even to Panama,
but he found it impossible to forge ahead financially; indeed, when he arrived
at Taf: February 15, 1909, he had but $1.65 in his possession. Today he
owns his own garage, owns also a neat cottage in Taft, and as a partner in
the firm of Stebbins & Dowd owns an interest in the stock, equipment and
supplies of the Ford automobile agency at this point.

A member of an old Southern family, Mr. Dowd was born in Toledo,
Ohio, August 25, 1880, and was the eldest child of Gundulphus and Mary
(Strickland) Dowd. The mother died at the age of thirty-three and later
the father married again, by the second union becoming the parent of one
child, Henry, now living on the home ranch in New Mexico. After suc-
cessive removals through the SLUth, from Georgia (where he was born),
to Texas, Mississippi and o;her states, the elder Dowd eventually established
a permanent home in New IMexico, where he since has engaged in ranching
and cattle-raising. His second and third sons, Cephus and George T., are
living in Texas, where the former is a cattleman and the latter an emplove
of the Santa Fe Railroad Company. The fourth son. Edward S., works for
his oldest brother in the garage at Taft, while tlie fifth son, Harry T., and
the son by the second marriage, Henr3% remain with their father on the New
Mexico ranch.

\\'hen nine years of age Adolphus Dowd accompanied the family from
Mississippi to Texas, where at the age of eighteen he completed the literary
course in the Sherman schools. Meanwhile he had gained a thorough knowl-
edge of telegraphy bv night studv and his first paid position as operator was
at Trinidad, Colo., where he worked for two vears with the Colorado South-
ern Railroad Company. Later he had positions in many places and with
different companies. Particularly he worked for the Postal and Western
Union Companies, and the Marconi ^^'irelcss Telegraph Company under
Capt. H. J. Hughes, head of the IMarconi system. In New York Citv he
was with both the Postal and the Western Union. In Texas he worked at
Dallas and Galveston, later held a position at Denver. Colo., and as early as
1904 went to Panama under a three-year contract in the government service,
but an attack of malaria and conserment ill-health led to his honorable dis-
charge from the service. During 1905 he arrived in San Francisco, where
he engaged as tele.graph operator for the San Francisco Examiner and the
Associated Press. One of the most thrilling experiences occurred at the
time of the earthquake, when he was on dutv in San Francisco. From that
city he went to Kansas, where he was emnloved successively at Topeka,
Dodge City and Herington. The year 1907 found him with the ^Vestern
Union in Los Angeles. Later he was employed for a year at New Orleans,



1448 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

La., and next went to Houston, Tex., to engage with the Houston Belt &
Terminal line. When he resigned from that position he was sent to San
Francisco by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and next came to Kern
county early in 1909. After a few months as Southern Pacific agent at Taft
(with office in the Santa Fe depot, which at that time consisted of a box car),
June 12, 1909, he opened the independent office for the Western Union Tele-
graph Company, installed the equipmeuL and started a set of books. From
the Western Union service he drifted into the livery automobile busmess
and now, as a member of the firm of Stebbins & Dowd, has the agency in
Taft and the west side for the Ford automobiles, Haynes autos and Federal
trucks, buying and selling automobiles and their accessories, also doing re-
pair work of all kinds.

The marriage of Air. Dowd took place at Taft and united him with Miss
Ruth Elder, of Indianapolis, Ind. They are identified with the Baptist de-
nomination. Fraternally Mr. Dowd ranks as one of the leading Py:hians of
California. During 1903 he first identified himself with the order in Texas
and ever since that time he has maintained an interest in its progress. After
coming to Taft he interested others in the movemen;; and as a result organ-
ized the Knights of Pythias lodge at this point, from which he was sent as
delegate to the Grand Lodge of Pythias, held at San Diego, May 19-23, 1913.

E. D. BURGE. — The name of Burge has been connected with the agri-
cultural development of Califcrnia and particularly with the farming inter-
ests of the San Joaquin valley, ever since the era of mining activity began
in the west, for it was during the year 1850 that J. C. Burge, a West Virginian
by birth, made the tedious voyage via Panama to San Francisco and from that
city proceeded to the vicinity of Lodi. After he had been in the west about
a year he sent for his wife and two children. The former, who bore the
maiden name of Sarah E. Hurlbut, was a native of Virginia and came from
an old family of that state. A large expedition in charge of his brother,
Simeon Burge, crossed the plains and she with the two children accompanied
the party. Four children were born during the residence of the family near
Lodi. The father died in El Paso, Tex., and the mother in Bakersfield in 1^08.

Of the six children comprising the family the next to the youngest, E. D.,
was born November 3, 1867, and received common-school advantages in
boyhood. His identification with Kern county dates from March 17, I'Ol,
when he came to the Midway oil fields in the employ of the Midway Oil
Company of Oregon as their foreman. On New Year's day of 1902 he took
charge of the property as superintendent, in which capacity he continued
until his resignation in August of 1909. After leaving that concern he located
in Bakersfield and began to handle oil lands, and the returns from valuable
properties in his possession have been most gratifying. Meanwhile he has been
concerned in the upbuilding of Bakersfield.. During 1910 he built the Southern
garage on Chester avenue and Twenty-fifth street, a structure exhibiting the
mission style of architecture.

Having purchased property at Santa Ana, in 1911 Mr. Burge removed
with his family to that place, where now he owns and superintends an orange
grove of twenty acres and a walnut grove of twenty-one acres, the whole
forming a very highly improved and valuable property, and is known as one
of the show places in the county. Much of his time is now given to horti-
culture, yet he has not neglected his Kern county properties nor lessened
his deep interest in the progress of this section of the state. Since the organiza-
tion of the National Bank of Bakersfield he has been a stockholder and director
in the institution. With Mr. Thomas he organized the Security Development
"Company, of which he since has officiated as president. The company owns
the old Fcx and Tamaloais leases in the North Midway and on 25 Hill. At
this writing six wells are in operation, while others are in process of drilling.



HISTORY OF KERN COUxNTY 1449

The onlv fraternal or^anizatinn with which Air. Burge has HlcntifKil himself
is the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, his nienibcrship being with l.'.akcrs-
field Lodge No. 2(i6. His family comprises Mrs. Uurge and their six chil-
dren. The former, formerly Miss Millie Mason, was born in Colorado and
became his wife in Missoula, Mont., since which she has lived in California.
Their family consists of four daughters and two sons, namely; luliia, Alice,
William, Melvin, Vivienne and Myrna.

RICHARD E. WHITE.— A native of New Mexico. Richard E. While
v^-as born at Georgetown, August 24, 1884, and was about five years old when,
in 188y, his parents removed to Bakerstield, Kern county, where he was des-
tined to become a citizen of prominence. After completing his course in the
public schools of Bakersfield, Richard White was appointed, in VJOZ, a mid-
shipman at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., by Con-
gressman Daniels, and afterward sanctioned by the late Senator Smith. Serv-
ing there for three years he accjuired a valuable technical education. In
1904 he resigned his position in the navy and returned to Bakersneld where
he was for two years employed as a civil engineer in the employ of the
Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Then for two years he was assistant
city engineer. In l^Uy he became a contractor of street work at Bakersrieid
and operaied in that capacity successfully until 1911, when he engaged in
the hardware and implement trade at \V asco. By industry, conscientious
dealing and untailing alertness he has succeeded even beyond his expecta-
tions and is building up a tine business which extends far beyond the limits
of his home town.

i-rattrnally Mr. White affiliates with Bakersfield Lodge No. 266, B. P.
O. E. September 17, l'^U8, he married Miss Bessie L. Caldwell, who was
born at Santa Rosa, Cal., February 19, 1885, and they have a daughter,
Julia V.

JOHN J. McCLIMANS.— While the oil industry m the United States is
of comparatively modern inception and development, three generations of
the McClimans have been identified with its history and the second gener-
ation has a most capable representative in the superintendent of the Oleg
Crude Oil Company, who from his earliest childhood days was familiar with
the business and has made it a means of livelihood throughout his entire
life. Association with the industry is continued through his sons, Augustus
and Lewis, the former now engaged with the Alaska Pioneers and the latter
employed by the Oleg Crude. 'I he grandfather, W. M., a native of Penn-'
sylvania, became connected with the oil business from its inception in
his native commonwealth and he remained steadily in the occupation until he
was accidentally killed by a runaway horse. Since his death the widow,
who bore the maiden name of Jennie Galvin, has continued to make her home
in Pennsylvania.

In Franklin, Venango county, Pa., where he was btjrn July 9, 1870. and
where he attended the grammar schools, John J. McClmiaiis accpiired his
first knowledge of the oil industry. At the age of sixteen years he was
employed as a roustabout around oil wells. Bj^ the time he was tw'enty-two
he had gained a thorough knowledge of tool-dressing and four years later
he began to aid in the drilling of wells. .All of this time he worked mostly
in Venango county. Meanwhile he married in that county Miss Amelia S.
Miller, who was born and reared in F'ranklin, and by whom he has two sons,
themselves already interested in the oil industry. During 1900 the family
came to California and Mr. McClimans secured employment with the Pacific.
(now the Oleg) Crude Oil Company, whose holdings in the McKittrick field
he aided in developing through his skill as a driller. Recognition of his
ability came in his promotion in 1901 to be superintendent of the McKittrick
lease, which he developed so that it now contains five producing wells. From



1450 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

^:r

that field in 1909 he came to the Midway and opened work on section 32, 31-23,
where he since has developed four producing wells. Since coming to this
field he has purchased stock in the company, so that he now is financially
interested, as well as the superintendent of the Midway lease. With a reali-
zation of the importance of good schools, he gave his services to the Oleg
district as a director for four years and in that time accomplished much for
the welfare of the local schools. On the organization of Yokute Tribe
No. 152, I. O. R. M., at McKittrick, he became a charter member and remained
an active worker in the same until his removal from McKittrick to the Mid-
way field.

CHARLES D. SMITH.— The citizenship of Mr. Smith in California
dates from 1901, while his identification with the Associated Oil Company
dates from October 20. 1903, when he secured employment on the Green-
Whittier division of the Kern river field. Having had no previous ex lerience,
he was obliged to begin at the bottom and gradually work his way forward
to a position cf importance.

The youngest in a family of four children, Charles D. Smith was born
near Warrentown, Warren county. Mo., December 29, 1880, being a son of
Amandus and Eliza (Consage) Smith, also natives of Warren county, but
now residents of Texas county. Mo., where they own and operate a farm.
During the Civil war the father offered his services to the Union and was
assigned to Comoany B, Tenth Missouri Cavalry, in which he remained until
the expiration of his term of service. The old homestead was the environ-



Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; → online text (page 159 of 177)